Good basic financial planning article (on-line link)
I ran across this article (I have a paid subscription to receive the hard copy magazine) and it's available for free on the website. It's a good basic article on financial planning but note the referral links are aimed at my local area, which is the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The article, however, is pretty good basic advice for anyone. It is titled "Show Me the Money - Financial Planning for dummies (and these days, aren't we all?)". Julia Park Tracey, the author, is a regular columnist and writes monthly on a wide variety of topics.
My ONLY disagreement with the article is the segment on making a financial plan. She makes it sound relatively easy; however, there are many ways to produce a financial plan and almost always the cheapies are spit out by a software program. This quickie-type product can be okay if your situation is simple and especially if you're still young (under 40, I'd say). But don't ever think that a cheapie financial plan is as good as a truly customized, in-depth financial plan. The latter takes a lot of work! I used to work with a woman who created these, and it took her several weeks of analysis and evaluation for each individual plan she produced. Such a heavily customized plan would be worth it only if you had sufficient net worth to justify the high cost - I'd say, anyone comfortably in the mid-7 figure net value range would be a candidate.
For the rest of us, a software program is cheaper and can at least be a reasonable starting point. You just need to remember the old computer adage: GIGO, or garbage in, garbage out. The quality of the product you get is dependent upon good data from you, and skillful work by the advisor you're using (who hopefully is an RIA, or Registered Investment Advisor, in one of the fields that certifies financial professionals for fiduciary responsibility).
Also, remember that a financial plan is only a roadmap to get you from Point A (where you are) to Points B, C and D (your short, medium and long-term goals). Those goals will change over time few of us want the same thing at 25 that we did at 15; nor will we want the same things at 60 that we did at 30. Any life-changing event, which is usually defined as marriage, divorce, death, or birth Â will inevitably force a change in those goals, meaning the financial plan must be modified.
Like a will or trust, these are not immutable, set-in-stone documents. They are ÂlivingÂ Â as you and your circumstances change, so must they.
May we always plan well and wisely to the best of our abilities as we travel through life!